The Ohio Department of Education was awarded $42 million for a Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to build on ongoing work to improve the language and literacy development of our state’s children. Approximately 95 percent of the award will be distributed directly to local districts, community schools and early childhood education programs to improve literacy outcomes for children from birth through grade 12.
This four-year subgrant will focus on developing model comprehensive literacy sites in early childhood education programs and district preschools as well as elementary, middle and high schools across the state. Recently Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center was notified that it had been awarded a subgrant of $1,050,000 to serve students in grades K through 5 at Mansfield City Schools’ Springmill STEM Elementary and Plymouth-Shiloh Elementary School.
Lynn Meister, Mid-Ohio ESC’s Director of Teaching and Learning said they are excited to begin implementation of the grant. “We will be building these two model sites to become regional and state-wide models for evidence-based practices in literacy. Working closely with the Ohio Department of Education, Mid-Ohio is partnering with these districts to build proven practices that increase achievement for all students. In turn, what is put into place in the model sites can be replicated across other districts in the region.”
The model sites will concentrate on implementing practices consistent with Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement. The grant also will support professional learning and coaching. The partnership between the model sites and the Department will allow early childhood education programs, districts, schools and families to improve student literacy and increase educational options available to students who have been traditionally underserved.
Districts receiving the subgrant had to have high poverty rates and be willing to meet specific requirements for implementing the work to be done, gathering and analyzing data, reporting progress, and creating schoolwide reading systems to improve achievement for all students.
Meister explained, “We want every student to become a successful and confident reader and writer in our model sites, and then bring the evidence-based practices from the grant project to other districts in the region and across the state. The CLSD subgrant builds on the foundational work done during the past three years under Mid-Ohio ESC’s state-awarded Striving Readers Grant. We are excited to get started on this new, critical grant project to raise student achievement and replicate the work across the region.”
On Monday, August 10th, Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center will hold their annual All-Staff Meeting to kick off the school year. Because of the ongoing concerns about COVID-19, the meeting will look a little different than in years past. Instead of the typical large gathering at the Mid-Ohio Conference Center, this year it will be held via Zoom conference.
Superintendent Kevin D. Kimmel said he plans to open the general meeting by delivering some good news. “As part of my first year serving as superintendent, one of the goals I established with the Mid-Ohio ESC Board of Governors was to conduct an annual satisfaction survey with our client districts as it relates to the following purpose and role of our ESC and I will be sharing the early results of this feedback with the staff.”
“Mid-Ohio ESC went through a major leadership change last year with my hiring and the hiring of new Directors for each department,” explained Kimmel. “Based on feedback from the districts received prior to my start, Mid-Ohio ESC focused our efforts on the following areas: development of relationships, improving trust, and timely responses.” He said the feedback from the current survey so far has been overwhelmingly positive with districts saying they are very satisfied in all three of those areas.
“This would not have been possible without our dedicated staff that worked with our districts daily,” Kimmel said. However he said, even with the positive response, Mid-Ohio ESC is not content to maintain the status quo. “We still have areas to expand programs, services and supports to meet the ever changing needs of our schools.”
Kimmel said he is proud of what Mid-Ohio ESC has done this past year to increase their assistance to the districts. The Teaching & Learning team was established to provide customized supports for curriculum, instruction, assessment and school improvement efforts. Also, Behavioral Support Services were expanded to provide professional development opportunities and subsequent coaching support to build professional capacity to most effectively assess, address and improve student outcomes.
After the opening session, the Student Services Department will convene to receive a special education legal update from Christina Henagan Peer, partner at Walter & Haverfield, a Cleveland-based law firm. Then following a lunch break, the different departments will have their team meetings to prepare for the year ahead.
Lynn Meister, Director of Teaching & Learning said she is encouraged for this upcoming year because last year’s unexpected changes showed the staff’s ability to adapt. “Despite the difficulties that we were presented with last spring, our staff seamlessly transitioned to virtual meetings, online professional development, and individual supports to meet the needs of our districts. Given the tremendous expertise and flexibility available at Mid-Ohio ESC, I know that we will meet the opportunities and challenges of the new year successfully as well.”
Jennifer Crum, Director of Student Services, echoed Meister’s sentiments. “In March of 2020, our staff regrouped and reimagined instruction and services to support students with disabilities. And, we experienced successes and failures with what worked and what may not have worked. We have witnessed some of the most resilient staff here in our very own service region! Our staff is doing what they feel passionate about – facilitating the growth of children, despite the odds. They are taking chances and working hard, and that is what successful people do. Nothing is worthwhile unless you take risks. We have and continue to embrace the current situation, which richly offers a climate of new ideas, to best meet the needs of our students academically, socially and emotionally.”
The five consortium districts participating in the Striving Readers Grant through Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center, Buckeye Central Local Schools, Galion City Schools, Highland Local Schools, Plymouth-Shiloh Local Schools and Shelby City Schools, will be participating in Kindergarten Literacy Boot Camps in August. The boot camps are designed for incoming kindergarten students to provide them with a “jump start” on the readiness skills they need to support them through a successful kindergarten experience.
The goals of the kindergarten boot camp are:
Research reveals that when families are involved in their child’s learning, they perform better in school. Many of the district administrators had commented on the importance of hosting boot camps in the past, but funding was always a barrier. Thanks to the support from the Striving Readers Grant funding which covers the personnel costs and supply costs associated with the boot camps, now districts are able to offer this valuable experience to their young learners and encourage family engagement.
Mid-Ohio ESC was awarded the $1.2 million grant, which is in its third year of implementation. The focus has been on serving all students, with an emphasis on those living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners and students identified as having a reading disability. Mid-Ohio ESC was recently notified that their consortium has received a fourth year no-cost extension on the grant, enabling service to more students in the coming year.
Lisa Cook, Mid-Ohio ESC Elementary Literacy Coach, said special arrangements are being made for this year. Cook explained most districts are looking at holding their camps for a week or two before school starts. “Most of the camps will be half-days. [Because of COVID-19] the districts are discussing the possibility of either hosting a small group of kindergarten students through the month of August, with some students working on-site and others remotely and rotating. Others have discussed providing boot camp support to the students at home and engaging families in supporting readiness skills to prepare their child for kindergarten.” Regardless of the way things develop, said Cook, the districts are prepared to offer on-site, virtual and hybrid options.
“As a former kindergarten teacher,” said Cook, “I am so excited to be a part of planning and helping to support these district boot camps! I know from my years in the classroom that it takes the first month of school to develop a routine, to really get to know your students and their needs, and to form a relationship and bond with them. The beauty of these camps is that the teachers will now have a window of opportunity to learn about their students and to prepare strategies to support and ease them into the school year. There is truly no better joy than happy, smiling kindergartners!”
The Richland County School District Superintendents, in collaboration with Richland County Public Health and the Shelby Health Department, have developed a reopening plan that has identified common practices that will guide the districts in decisions related to the start of school. Information from Governor Mike DeWine’s office, the Ohio Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Ohio Department of Health is helping guide districts in their plans to reopen school in the fall of 2020.
The goal is to have all students in school for five (5) days per week as long as Richland County is designated at a Yellow (Level 1) or Orange (Level 2) risk level per the Ohio Public Health Advisory System that can be viewed at: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system/.
Under designation of a Red (Level 3) risk level, Richland County School Districts may confer with Richland County Public Health or the Shelby City Health Department to determine if the indicators that caused the increase in risk level impact their school district and if there is a need to implement alternate schedules or remote/online learning. If Richland County is designated a Purple (Level 4) risk level, Richland County School Districts will implement remote/online learning.
"The 2020-21 School Re-opening Guidance being released by the school systems of Richland County and Richland Public Health is the result of countless hours of virtual and in-person meetings, as well as independent time of review and revision,” said Richland Public Health Commissioner Sarah Humphrey. “The development of this plan was completed with the true intent of providing the most effective learning environment for students while maintaining the health and safety of students, staff, and families. The learning environment during this COVID-19 pandemic will require flexibility, and understanding by the entire community as it may continue to evolve. School and public health professionals have built a strong, collaborative relationship and will continue to work together to meet the needs of students as the school year progresses, regardless of the format."
“I would like to commend the Richland County Superintendents along with our local health departments for coming together to develop a common plan to get kids back to school,” said Mid-Ohio ESC Superintendent Kevin D. Kimmel. “We know that the best place for students to grow both academically and socially/emotionally is in the classrooms with our dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff but we must do this in a way to protect the health and safety of all of our students and staff. All of our districts have worked tirelessly over the past several months to provide remote/online learning options for families. Much was learned in the spring when schools were forced to close, and districts will be in a better position to meet the educational needs of the students if schools need to transition to a remote/online instruction.”
More detailed practices are in the attached reopening plan. This plan is subject to change based on state, regional, and/or local factors related to the pandemic. Districts will be communicating additional district and building specific information which will vary by district. Anyone with questions may call their local school district’s offices.
With COVID-19 still a major concern, the Abraxas School of Ohio and FIRST School, the Private Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) programs partnered with Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center, have put plans in place in case there is a need to educate students solely through remote learning.
Vanessa Wagner, principal of FIRST School, said, in their unique environment, it is extremely important to have alternative plans to meet the needs of all learners. “The students who attend FIRST School and Abraxas are often in need of credit recovery or access to GED prep. If we did not have a remote learning plan and quality partnerships with the facilities, we would have struggled greatly to meet the needs of these students.”
The following procedures will assure, if the need arises, that educational opportunities are still being provided to all school-aged youth at both programs.
At this time, both Abraxas and Foundations for Living are holding in-person class, according to Wagner. “We have very clear guidelines which were developed with guidance from the Richland County Health Department to keep our students and staff members safe. Because of our partnerships and the willingness of the teachers to adjust quickly to remote learning earlier this year we’ve been able to help our students get caught up or stay on track to be promoted.”
Wagner said the continued flexibility of the teachers in each facility has been a crucial part of maintaining a structured educational program. “Abraxas Principal Shelly Patrick and I are extremely grateful for their dedication and hard work. In addition, the forward thinking of [MOESC Technology Manager] Candy Bores and her ability to anticipate our needs has been outstanding. We believe face-to-face instruction for our at-risk populations is the best type of instruction, and we hope that our extended safety protocols continue to keep everyone safe so that they can continue to learn in a healthy environment.”
THIS TRAINING HAS BEEN CANCELED
There is an online option
The Auditor’s office is making this decision with serious consideration for the safety of all involved. We understand that many people planning to attend live trainings must meet certain requirements before the end of the year. With that in mind, it is important to remember that the Attorney General’s office does offer online training. Attendees can take public records training and get proof of completion online at, https://sunshinelaw.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/.
The Board of Governors held their monthly meeting on July 15th. There was a lengthy discussion surrounding the reopening of schools in the region. Superintendent Kevin D. Kimmel updated the Board on the discussions and dialog among area districts as it relates the reopening schools and what may be included in their plans. The districts are working closely with the county health departments and their directors to provide guidance. Information guidance from the Governor’s office, the Ohio Department of Education, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health departments are helping guide districts in their plans to reopen school.
Other items of note were:
Haynes was hired to be a Gifted Coordinator as part of a continuing effort to enhance the Gifted Program at Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center. Her most recent position was at St. Francis deSales School in Akron where she had been an Enrichment Teacher/Consultant, but she also spent 16 years in the Crestview School District as a Gifted Intervention Specialist. She is a graduate of Ohio University where she received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She received her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from The Ohio State University, and also continued her studies in Gifted Education at Ashland University.
Lynn Meister, Director of Teaching and Learning, said, “Colleen will be a valuable member of the gifted team. I am very happy to welcome her to Mid-Ohio!” Leanna Ferreira, Gifted Services Coordinator, echoed Meister’s enthusiasm. “Colleen brings a wealth of experience and passion to our gifted team. We are excited to have her join our team and to share her talents with our districts!”
Haynes said her previous work has prepared her well for this new position. “Within all of my teaching engagements, I have worked diligently to uncover my students’ needs, to offer both enrichment and remediation opportunities, and to partner with students to promote academic success. In addition, I have made it a key priority to cultivate relationships with parents and peer teachers as I create ‘teams’ committed to student success. Enjoying the process of receiving and offering professional development, I have been highly effective in modeling lessons to both engage and challenge the gifted learners.”
Behavior problems at school interfere with lessons and disturb other students. These problems often overwhelm teachers, particularly new teachers, and some consider them the most difficult aspect of a teacher’s work day. Children who exhibit behavior problems invariably require extra attention, which places strain on teachers and slows the pace at which lessons are offered and completed.
Dealing with behavioral issues requires a large base of knowledge, from understanding the classroom climate to understanding mental health issues and how trauma affects students. In order to help teachers and administrators, Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center has developed a new behavioral team to offer support. They will provide professional development opportunities and subsequent coaching support to build professional capacity to most effectively assess, address and improve student outcomes.
There are 3 levels of support. The first level is general professional development training held at Mid-Ohio ESC that any district or individual may participate in, client and non client districts. Level One Professional development opportunities are also available to be scheduled in districts.
After districts, teams or individuals complete Level One professional development opportunities, those districts, teams or individuals, may access a coach to provide continued customized support for their learning, the second level of support.
Level Three is the most intensive support, and the Behavior Support Team will use research-driven, evidence-based practices to consult and provide training of practical applications, for use by school leaders, educators, and staff, to most effectively assess and address student mental and behavioral health needs. At this level, the Behavior Support Team will consist of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, an Instructional Coach, an Administrator, and a Licensed Social Worker.
Jennifer Crum, Director of Student Services at Mid-Ohio ESC, said there was a need, and this is a way to help. “We hope that, through our collaboration with multidisciplinary teams, positive results in improving learner academic and/or behavioral outcomes are realized. The collaboration provides an opportunity to create a safe environment for each team member to move toward their own and their collective team's desired goals in a fulfilling manner through coaching.”
Anyone interested in accessing this new support from Mid-Ohio ESC or with questions about fees and registration can contact Crum or Wendy Harvey at 419-774-5520.